You’ve heard the criticisms of minimalist homes. They’re cold. They’re sterile. They’re uninviting. They look like something out of a magazine, not a place where people actually live.
Let’s smash all of them right now. First, anyone who says anything like that probably isn’t a minimalist. Second, no one even reads magazines anymore. And third, it doesn’t matter one single shred of an iota of a bit what anyone else thinks about your space as long as you’re happy in it. Your home is one of the few times you can say “It’s all about me” and not be a narcissist.
But – streamlining can cause you to focus more on elimination than on aesthetics, and that isn’t good either. What you need is a balance of simplification and warmth, so the space feels uncluttered but cozy and comfortable. Here’s why and how to make your minimalist man-home a reality.
A minimalist home isn’t just about looking good (although it does that too, make no mistake). It’s also about making your life calmer, less stressful and more liberating. Who wouldn’t want all of those things? And also all of these things:
Clutter is a distraction. Not in the way the compulsive urge to check Facebook every 30 minutes is, but in a more quietly pernicious way. Everything within your field of vision tugs at your attention at least a little, so the fewer things there are, the more focused you’ll be.
Let’s be honest here. Most of the stuff taking up space in your home isn’t even stuff you need. It’s just crap you inherited or bought to soothe the ache of a bad breakup or ordered off Amazon while you were drunk. It’s weighing you down and making it harder for you to pack up and flee the country if needed. Ditch all the nonessentials.
Easier Spring Cleaning
A minimalist home means easier cleaning at all times, spring or otherwise. Is there anything worse than dusting under a thousand tchotchkes whose significance you can’t even remember? The more stuff you have, the more cleaning you have to do and the harder that cleaning is. This isn’t rocket science.
Ok, And Visual Appeal Too
There’s no denying it. Minimalist homes just look good. Damn good. Do you want to live somewhere that looks like it’s halfway to being a hoarder’s house? Nope, and that cute girl from the bar down the block doesn’t want to see it either.
You have a choice here. You can go minimalist to an extreme ascetic degree, or stick to Minimalist Lite. Or, of course, anything in between. It’s all down to you and your personal taste. These are some of the common elements of minimalist homes, and you can pick and choose:
Essential Furniture Only
A minimalist space should only have the basics. Think about what you really need and chuck the rest. A living room requires some kind of seating – a couch, maybe another chair of some kind (but only maybe) – a coffee table, a lamp or two, a simple entertainment centre. That’s it. Your bedroom needs even less.
If it’s a flat surface, it should be – almost – clear. There are some exceptions, which we’ll talk about next. But outside of those cases, shelves, tables and anything else flat should remain clear of clutter. No knickknacks. No stacks of paper. No piles of keys and receipts and whatever else you pulled from your pockets. Nothing.
These are the exceptions to the clear surfaces rule. Your home needs a few accents, or it really will descend into “cold” and “sterile” territory, but they should be thoughtfully curated. A few tasteful works of art, a colourful pillow, a family photo on a desk, a vase on the coffee table – these little decorations give your home personality and warmth, without causing catastrophic clutter.
Quality Over Quantity
Perhaps the easiest way to design your minimalist home is to keep this classic maxim in mind. Don’t aim for quantity in your space (especially if quantity means cheapo flatpack furniture). A minimalist chooses only a few high-quality things that he loves and uses often.
How To Get The Minimalist Look
Start With The Furniture
The big ticket items come first. The fewer pieces, the better. Aim for plain, simple designs and clean lines. Once you’ve settled on the focal points of the room, you can design around them.
Your motto is “Only the essentials.” Look at every single thing in the room and ask if you really need it. If you can live without it, do exactly that. Strip the room down to its bare bones – you can always add a few carefully chosen details later.
Floors. Walls. Flat surfaces. Everything should be unimpeded space. Remove anything stacked or visibly stored. Keep decorations and artwork simple and to a minimum. Anything that doesn’t fit into those categories should be donated, tossed out, or stored out of sight.
Not to give the proverbial dead horse another kick, but seriously – storage should be invisible. Bookshelves can certainly be used for their intended purpose, but shouldn’t be home to much else. Otherwise, all storage should be concealed. You may even want to declutter your storage areas.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
You don’t want the room to be boring, but you don’t want to lose the minimalism either. Artwork and decorations should be simple accents. Solid colours are better than complex patterns (which are visual clutter). Plain window treatments – or even bare windows – are best.
If you’re worried about your space being plain, there are opportunities to spice things up in subtle ways. Playing with texture adds visual interest but isn’t distracting, especially with a monochromatic colour scheme.
Likewise, colour can be used as an accent (as long as it isn’t overdone). A single wall of colour has a dramatic effect, if you’re looking to go bold. If you prefer a more delicate approach, add splashes of colour in smaller details – like pillows, placemats or towels – to draw the eye and add energy to the room.
Take It One Room At A Time
If you think transforming an entire home is intimidating, you’re right. So don’t think of it that way. Focus on one room first, and let it become your inspiration for the rest of the space (and your centre of calm when the pressure of simplifying a whole home becomes overwhelming). Don’t forget to take time to enjoy each room as it’s finished. Pop a beer as a reward for your hard work. You deserve it.